Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Questions (245)

Martin Ferris

Question:

245. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if there will be a grant scheme for horticulture, including mushrooms, for 2014 following the close of the NDP funded scheme. [10473/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector, funded under the 2007-2013 National Development Plan, provides grant aid for horticultural growers who are making capital investments in specialist plant and equipment.

The main objectives of the scheme are to improve the quality of products, to facilitate environmentally friendly practices and promote diversification of on-farm activities in response to market demand. Apart from improving the quality of products, investments under the scheme have also significantly extended the growing season for Irish produce.

During the period 2008-2012, €16.1 million was allocated to 528 projects. The grant aid covers all areas of the horticultural industry and assisted in funding investments of approximately €40.3 million during the period.

The present Scheme expires at the end of this year. In addition the Scheme also requires approval from the EU Commission under EU State Aid Rules. The EU Commission’s current approval to operate the Scheme expires on 31 December 2013.

A decision has not yet been taken on whether a similar scheme will continue to operate in 2014.

The closing date for receipt of applications under the 2013 round of the Scheme was 15 February 2013. My Department is currently processing these applications with a view to issuing approvals to successful applicants. A budget of €3.25 million has been allocated to the Scheme in 2013. This should facilitate specialist capital investment of circa €8m by growers in the current year.